TripHammered
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Ancient History

Archive of previous updates on the site, January 1-March 31, 2004.


Scoot over, Ah can't see

Trip: Damn! Ah can't believe Dick Clark still looks that young.
Archer: The portrait in his attic has to be three hundred years old by now.

January 1, 2004: By Jove, another award! The other JuPiter Station (the Janeway/Paris site) has given TripHammered their Stellar award. I'm honored and quite flattered. Thanks!

January 7, 2004: We wrap up the ENT Libs with Hoshi and Porthos. If you'd like to see Libs for anyone else on the show, just ask.

January 14, 2004: Well, that was fun! It's been a while since we had a really good "yell suggestions back at the TV" episode. (Head Zealot: "Choose someone to execute." evay: "T'Pol!" Head Zealot: "Did you choose a crew member?" Archer: "I choose myself." evay: "Yes! Then Trip can be captain!" Head Zealot is in the brig. evay: "Throw him in the airlock!")

I honestly thought I'd caught a blooper during the firefight on the bridge, but I apparently confused Alas Poor Yarrick with one of the other tall dark-haired mustard-jacketed Zealots. Mal and the MACOs storm the bridge. Zealots get shot. Somewhere in here Yarrick dives for the floor and pretends to be shot. The Zealot at T'Pol's station does a Wallenda over the railing. T'Pol is ducked down on the floor. Yarrick has a phase pistol held loosely in his hand. Watch closely:she takes it from him, he makes sure she has it, and he quickly tucks his hand back in front of him! It looked like the actor screwed up, but on about tenth viewing I realized which Zealot was on the ground. Still, he was standing awfully fast after the phasers stopped flying! Sloppy editing on director Roxann Dawson's part.

Speaking of Dawson, she loves to film fights, doesn't she? Mal got to pound the crap out of a Zealot and one of the MACOs got to smack a bad guy around too. Malcolm got quite a few good moments in this one, from winging his juiceless weapon at the Zealot attacking him to the way his face lit up when Archer tossed him the Boomstick.

Trip harrumphing

Fine. Ah'll go sit in my quarters and catch up on my technical journals. See if Ah come help you take back Engineering.

Solid show all around (despite the dearth of Trip -- why wasn't he helping to take back Engineering?). Effective use of the Expanse and the natives as a plot device. I don't know if I buy the "organic explosives" bit, but I'll let that slide. The guest star who played the Head Zealot was creepy and compelling; you really believed people would follow him -- partly out of faith, partly out of fear. Excellent ending, just showing the consequences of the Zealots' actions without needing to lecture.

I think Hoshi donated her allotment of lines to Trav for this week's episode -- final score was Trav 4, Hoshi 0.

Why didn't T'Pol just nerve-pinch the Zealot at her station, instead of feebly jumping on his back and girl-slapping him? A better question: why were the weapons being activated from T'Pol's station? Why didn't the Head Zealot have someone at Mal's console? (Because unlike the captain and his logs, Malcolm knows enough to use a frelling password to lock his board when he gets up from his chair. Yeesh. This is the second invading commander to rifle through Archer's logs. You'd think he'd at least name them "Chicken Recipes" or something, to make them harder to find.)

We agreed that if either of us had been standing there while Head Zealot wiped a whole bunch of critical data about the Xindi, we would have lost it and strangled the guy. However, I assume that Norton's UnErase still exists in the 2150s.

Moogie thought this episode was so close to representing actual religion as to cause trouble for TPTB. My response is that Classic Trek used to be about pushing envelopes and making daring statements about race, war, religion, etc. Discuss amongst yourselves.

Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: Conor O'Farrell (D'Jamat, the Head Zealot) was Buzaan in "Rogue Planet" and Professor Jeff Carlson in DS9's "Little Green Men." Gregory Wagrowski (Ceris, whichever one that was) was Captain Solok (the jerky Vulcan captain) in DS9's "Take Me Out to the Holosuite." Kim Fitzgerald (redshirt) was a production associate on VOY and DS9.

Food Chain intact. Screencaps Thursday or Friday. I'll write up some of our MST3K comments for Malcolm as I recall them.

January 16, 2004: Let me say at the outset that I'm not going to get into any real analysis of the philosophical or religious plotlines of "Chosen Realm," because it's personally risky territory and I have no wish to offend my readers en masse. There are many other reviewers providing thoughtful commentary if you're looking for it.

Listen! Do you smell something?

Did you just speak, Travis?...Nah, Ah must be hearin' things.

Trip doesn't get many lines, so we'd better make the most of what we've got. In the teaser, he notes of their collected telemetry, "That should give T'Pol plenty to chew on for a while." Is it me, or does he look a little irritated, like he can't wait to get her off his back or make her stop nagging?

Head Zealot: "I'd be honored to accept your hospitality tonight...except that the fowl you've slaughtered for this 'Marsala' is our sacred mascot, dairy products are an abomination to the Makers, and I'm on Atkins so pasta is out. This mead is great, though." I mean, really! They have a religious objection to bioscans, but Archer doesn't think they'd have any food taboos?

The science vs. faith squabble between T'Pol and Head Zealot is so wildly extreme it's not even fun. I enjoy a good debate, but those two were almost literally not even on the same planet for that discussion.

The Exploding Zealot takes out a chunk of the hull on C deck. Archer starts giving orders to contain the problem. Head Zealot calmly enters the bridge and says "Stop." And Archer stops. Kirk and Janeway would have spun around and bitten his head off. Picard and Sisko would have ordered Worf to restrain him. (And then Worf would have tried to bite his head off.) But none of them would have just stopped, and given this psycho permission to take over the ship. And he threatens to destroy the ship -- well, what the hell good would that do him, then? I think Archer should have called his bluff, or distracted him while Mal whipped out his personal phase pistol and stunned him. Later, in the Armoury, the same idiot thing happens -- the Zealot yells "Hold your fire!" so he can come out and "surrender," and Archer stops firing. Moron. I bet Mal was quietly pounding his head against the ladder, wondering how he could get Trip to be captain so they can take turns frightening the crap out of prisoners during interrogation.

Trip balks at turning his wee bairns over to the Zealots. Archer snarls, "Remember what's at stake, why we're out here." I was getting bad "Similitude" flashbacks -- yes, all else is subordinate to the Almighty Mission. And it is, at that.

Then viva says:

May I just say that I didn't like the way Archer grabbed Trip's arm in Engineering? I can't imagine him doing that to anyone else. Reminds me of harried parents in department stores grabbing little kids by the arm and saying "ARE YOU LISTENING TO ME?" Trip had the right tone in his response, "Aye, Captain." ["Of course I get it, you jerk. Just stop treating me like I'm a stupid toddler."]

I agree -- Archer yanks Trip around and all but throws him across the room. He does, at the end, give Trip's arm a little squeeze, but I still think the captain was having a Sim moment in the beginning. Maybe he was thinking that Trip was going to go haring off and yell at the Zealots, which could get Trip killed. Archer can't afford that. So he's mostly about protecting the Almighty Mission, and then has a flash of remembering the affection he once had for Trip before the Great White Xindi Hunt.

How did Archer know ALL about the pregnant woman and her husband's discomfort? What happened to doctor-patient confidentiality? Not to mention that she talked an awful lot -- I should say, revealed an awful lot -- for a cultist. And Phlox sure got a lot of useful "impressions."

Nice followup to "Anomaly," noting Captain de Sade's questioning methods. I'm a bit surprised he even put it in the log.

That battle bridge in the nacelle is really handy, isn't it?

I think Phlox stole Archer's lipstick this week. I guess the captain was feeling too macho for his Maybelline. Or maybe dead men don't wear Pink Pout.

Archer took a gamble with Alas Poor Yarrick. "Is that the faith you were raised in?" What if he'd said yes? And then shot Archer for having the temerity to return from the dead? (Yes, yes, I know; short show, Trip becomes captain.)

I liked T'Pol's quiet, implacable resistance to Head Zealot's orders. I would have liked to see her be a little more, uh, Vulcan in fighting back on the bridge, but full credit for not just rolling over and doing what he said (like some people I could mention), even if they did have the bigger guns. (But they didn't shoot her after she tried to leap on the Zealot who was firing torpedoes -- tactically stupid. She's already shown that she's both resistant and willing to attempt attack. Why not incapacitate her? Or remove her from the Bridge? Or at the very least tie her up? See, you stuff your brain too full of religious claptrap and there's no room for IQ points.)

Grrrrrrr

Get your filthy hands off my armaments, you bloody nutcase!

ENT MST3K, already in progress:

Head Zealot: Prepare to fire torpedoes!
evay (as Malcolm): No! Not the torpedoes! Get your greasy paws off my weaponry!

{Archer opens a door to reveal Malcolm sitting forlornly on a bunk. He leaps to his feet and his face lights up as Archer tosses him a rifle.}
Malcolm:
Captain!
wombat61 (as Malcolm): A gun? For me? Just what I always wanted, sir!
Archer: We're retaking the ship.
{Malcolm smirks nastily.}
evay (as Malcolm): Just you, me, and Betsy, eh, sir? Like shooting womprats in Beggar's Canyon.
Archer: We need the MACOs.
{Malcolm's face falls somewhat.}
evay (as Malcolm): Wot, those bumbling idiots? Well, get the women, then. At least they know how to hit a moving target.

{to the "infidel" Triannonians}
Archer:
I'm powering down my weapons.
evay (as Malcolm, whining): But sir! We just got them back online! Y'know, you Yanks are no bloody fun a'tall in a fight.

Pyrithian bat gets to kick some Zealot butt! You go, girl!

Nice to see Mal take on some bad guys in hand-to-hand and win. That little fight was well choreographed, for both pairs of combatants. And Dawson didn't forget about how she framed and filmed "Dawn," either, since she made sure to get a shot of Mal's finer assets during the battle.

When telling them he's rerouted command functions and they no longer control weapons, Archer announces his new location to the Zealots, who have made it clear that suicide and homicide are viable options. Jeez, don't make them waste precious minutes trying to figure out where you are, Captain Mensa. That could be time which Mal and the MACOs could use trying to retake the Bridge.

The mop on Archer's head masquerading as a haircut was particularly sucky this week...

Moogie was startled to see that the new head coach of the Knicks looked an awful lot like the Head Zealot, minus the latex and face paint.

Call the Orkin Man!

Archer's new short haircut is really bugging me.

January 21, 2004: Another really fun episode! We like Jeff Combs (although he was looking a little peaked under the makeup). Writer Chris Black ("The Catwalk") and director David Livingston turn in a winning effort. I was so very much hoping this was an actual "birth of the Federation" episode, since Andorians are allegedly one of the founding races, but Moogie (again) called the plot twist fifteen minutes in.

A great show. Nice tension between Mal and the Blue Meaness, especially with Mal being on the ball and undoing her sabotage pronto! I liked the exchange between Shran and Trip; you almost believed that Shran meant what he was saying. Or who knows, maybe he did -- Shran's a good complicated character, and hasn't been declared for one team or the other. But he was not the most convincing faux Ferengi, oddly enough (considering all the practice he's had).

The Andorians have turned out to be a great species for ENT. We know just enough about them to let ENT create stories as needed. They're warlike but not necessarily war-loving, they have a code of honor but will plot for their own ends, and you have no idea when they're lying. Plus they have a fast ship and a really cool bridge.

The back-and-forth among the Xindi is necessary filler, I guess. We were hoping to see Raijin again. I thought the control center where Degra was overseeing the testing looked vaguely like the Pointy-Haired Boss from Dilbert lording over a row of cubicles.

When the "Previously on Enterprise" clip rolled, I turned to Moogie and said "You know, I like the recap, but doesn't that just cut two minutes off the episode time?" Not to mention -- why recap, essentially, the whole season so far? Is it in the hope of bringing new viewers up to date, I guess?

Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: The Xindi menagerie are all returning guests (to their same roles). Although I understand one of the reptilians was rendered on a new workstation.

Food Chain (hic) intact. I suppose I should start a Bar Tab. More commentary Friday, probably, with screencaps. I'm going to say tentatively no damage, but I'll check to see if Trip got toasted when the Mean Green Blorp Machine went through Engineering.

January 23, 2004: We're halfway through the season and I haven't had one episode to recap in detail yet. Good for Trip, I suppose, but not as amusing for TripHammered.

Muncha buncha Fritos go with lunch

Ruffles have that extra something...

Sort of interesting that a chunk of the material from the recap was from "Twilight," which technically didn't happen... And the music during that sequence -- what the hell was that about? Completely bizarro fight music.

The Andorians have nice ships, but the thongs on the outside of the uniforms are, um, an interesting fashion statement. Kudos to the folks in back working the anntenae.

Moogie was concerned that the whole Xindi arc would be over by the end of sweeps, since Degra said the weapon could be ready in a month, but recall that Archer FOOMed the prototype, so the Degradations may not have enough info to figure out why it overheated. They may have to start over with another prototype. Or, more likely, just barrel ahead with the actual planet-killer.

On the other hand, why hasn't someone -- the Reptilians seem to be fairly gung-ho -- dedicated a team to tracking down Enterprise? They know the Terrans are in the Expanse. They know we know about the weapon they're building. Why are they letting the ship run around essentially unhampered? Not that the Kemocite Q-36 Explosive Space Modulator isn't a really frightening chunk of ordnance, but they don't seem to be thinking in terms of strategy or tactics. Better for the crew, less believable for the audience. Look, if I'm an English major and I can outstrategize these guys, Starfleet's Finest should be using them for Kleenex.

How can the flagship of the Fleet not have backups of their most critical data? I'm sorry, I can't overlook that. That's beyond bad writing, that's plain stupid.

While maneuvering through the Blorp Jungle, T'Pol tells Trav "Hard to port." Doesn't that give him about 120 degrees of latitude in just where to port he should be dodging? Does she mean tilt the ship or go left? And not for anything, but as a Vulcan and a scientist, she should automatically be more precise than "port."

Watch as Shran is walking through the ready room -- his antennae duck under the beam so he doesn't brush it.

I love the whole scene when Shran tries to convince Archer that the Andorians are there purely to help. He pulls out every Andorian-Vulcan conflict, plays on all the history he can possibly make relevant, gives T'Pol a few backhanded compliments, purrs, struts, vamps, and all but pouts. Jeffrey Combs is so cool. (However, he sneers, "Where is their [the Vulcans'] mighty fleet?" but then winds up his big speech with "We're here to help you." Well, you're only one ship. If the Imperial Guard really wanted to help the Terrans and forge an alliance, they would have sent at least a half-dozen vessels, don't you think?)

So Malcolm and T'Pol both want security teams to accompany the Andorians through the ship, since they remember last week's unsupervised aliens had a bad habit of exploding. Archer waves them both off. At this point it's basically in character for him -- as myst points out, "Archer usually sides with the aliens he's never laid eyes on before in his entire life, murmuring words of trust into his ears while his officers look on in bewilderment." Why does he have a senior staff if he doesn't listen to them? It's so annoying -- because the show is so truncated for ad space, they don't have narrative time to show an intelligent discussion of options. They just have each character represent a different viewpoint, and Archer gets the "right" one and his officers look like dodos. (And then at the end, Malcolm says to Archer, "You were right, sir. If I hadn't been watching the Andorian officer..." as though it were Archer's idea to keep an eye on them!)

T'Pol, either pull your belt up so it doesn't slide off your bony hips or eat something so it has some flesh to hang on....

I was extremely amused to see Trip with a hoagie and Ruffles for lunch. The whole Mess Hall scene was great (and this time Mal got the potty joke instead of Trip). I mean, yes, the barbs flying back and forth with the Blue Meaness were fun, but it's great to see these two just relax around each other. "What's the situation in Engineering?" "Bad. The armory?" "Worse." And no more needs to be said.

Even with the slight subtle flirting going on between Mal and the Blue Meaness, it was definitely more of a fencing match between equals. He saw her as security risk first, a tactical officer second, and perhaps a woman after that. Which is quite refreshing, and sensible, and a marvelous change from the cheese-sniffing Veezal. Malcolm was fantastic this week -- suspicious when he should have been, protective of his ship, stringing the Blue Meaness along so he could find out what she was up to -- he was doing his job and doing it well, which, oddly, we don't see so much of on ENT!

Did Archer actually tell Shran about Lizzie? I think the Andorians have a boatload of intel on the Terrans, and if anything, Shran would have just maneuvered the conversation so Archer of the Ales would admit what Shran already knew. Note that Trip reveals very little of what he's feeling on a personal level. "Lots of people lost family," he demurs, and "Ah just want to make sure they don't get the chance to finish what they started." It's a defense mechanism, for himself rather than against Shran, I think. I'd bet Trip hasn't talked to anyone at all about his feelings since they left Terra, and probably very little beforehand. I wonder if we'll ever see him actually unpack all that grief and fear and anger and deal with it.

wombat61 was wondering if we still might see a Birth of the Federation kind of ep at the end of the season, with Enterprise screaming out of the Expanse with a Xindi fleet on their tail, and they burst through the barrier to find the Imperial Guard waiting to blow the Xindi out of the sky. And then the Romulan War starts, and the Vulcans join in for their own reasons, and possibly the Tellarites, and out of that we have a larger alliance.

Maybe Archer's relationship with Shran is what allows for the alliance between the species -- that could be the important thing he does which affects history. Certainly Shran wasn't happy about his orders to betray Archer and crew. And we don't know, in the end, if it was Shran or the Blue Meaness (which had been my guess) who sent the prototype telemetry. I think Shran has a grudging respect for Archer, or mebbe he's kind of masochistic and likes owing this guy favors, and would rather have an ally than an enemy. Besides, Archer stood up to the Vulcans, which puts him on the plus side of Shran's ledger.

Next week is a repeat of "Twilight," and a fresh Get Me Rewrite! here.

January 28, 2004: TrekToday reports that ENT will be moving to 9 pm Wednesdays, starting March 10 and going at least through mid-April. I'll post a reminder a week beforehand so nobody has a coronary thinking they missed it. This is probably a good move, getting ENT away from Smallville (Angel is not serious competition, much as I loved Buffy), but it means I have to stay up an hour later to update the site!

And after enjoying this week's repeat of "Twilight" -- and tell your friends and family to watch, too! It's an amazing episode -- we have a new Get Me Rewrite! The real novelty is that Trav has the opportunity for lines in this one. (I did say opportunity...or you could just continue the joke that he doesn't speak.)

February 4, 2004: I just want to say that I think you folks did a wonderful job with "Get Me Rewrite" this past week. We got a surprising breadth of captions from what seemed to be a limited picture. Nice job!

Mal's congratulatory smirk

Congratulations, sir. You made it through an entire episode without acting like a spoiled arrogant teenaged jerk once.

Okay, "Stratagem" just kicked butt. I can't believe the crew (the writers!) came up with something so ballsy and complicated and actually pulled it off. I was extremely impressed. This is the kind of planning I was complaining that Archer wasn't doing earlier. Janeway would pull off a stunt like this. Kirk did, although not as elaborately. The crew was urgent but not desperate.

Yes, yes, it's the Archer Show again, but it was okay, because -- get this -- Archer was actually depending on his crew, and asking advice of his senior staff, and then (gasp) using that advice! Amazing! Everyone got a little air time. Everyone got to be useful. Archer didn't act like a jerk. T'Pol didn't pull a Janet Jackson. Not so much of Trip, but he was doing Engineering work, at least. Malcolm got to blow up a whole bunch of alien ship parts and shove some Xindi prisoners around. (Those were some very happy smirks.) Doctor Phloxenstein got to use his critters for twisted medical jollies. Hoshi got to do stuff. Trav got to do stuff, for pete's sake! Great direction, great editing, great writing, even good acting from Bakula and Blalock. Another winner! Think we can match last February's sweeps for episode quality?

Although we are back to "Archer's best when he's not being himself," I'll take that at this point. I am starting to get a little tired of the inside-out narratives, but so far they've served the plots. And the teaser and first act did feel too much like the beginning of "Twilight." Minor quibbles at best.

So how is this arc going to resolve? They blow up this weapon, but what about the next? And the one after that? The only solution is not to stop the weapons, but the motive -- to convince the Xindi that the humans aren't a threat. So who told the Xindi that we destroyed their homeworld? Was it the insectoids, cooking up a story to foment civil war and take over? Future Guy?

Moogie was unhappy because he felt that Starfleet officers should not be engaging in such sweeping deceptions. Anyone care to throw in their two cents?

No Recycled Trek Actors, since the guest cast (Degra and Thalen) played these roles before. Food Chain (hic) intact. I'm starting to wonder if Archer's going to need AA when he gets back to Terra. (I was about to say "the Alpha Quadrant"...) Photos and more commentary likely Friday. No damage. I'm getting tempted to go back and recap "The Xindi" if we don't get a serious Tripisode soon.

Trip looking pensive

...so whaddya say, fellas? Ah'm not askin' to die again or anything, just get my hands a little dirty. You know, some fisticuffs with an alien or somethin'. Besides that brain surgery, Ah've barely gotten m'hair mussed since the premiere.

February 6, 2004: Okay, let me defend my sweetheart and try to elaborate on his comment: he wasn't suggesting that Archer politely ask Degra for the information, or airlock it out of him. His thought was more that while the desperate situation of Enterprise justifies desperate measures, these are not tactics which should be used as SOP in peacetime. Secondo me, I think that the NX-01's logs will be picked apart for the next ten to twenty years as the Federation is created and Starfleet is strengthened, and they figure out rules and protocols and pitfalls. They'll see what Phlox did, and use that to shape Starfleet Medical ethics (and promptly ban a whole bunch of things like withholding the cure to a genocidal plague). They'll look over Archer's actions, and (besides proclaiming that dogs are no longer allowed on starships) start establishing precedents for future captains.

Some things (Yossarian in the airlock) are prohibited, and if the rule is broken, there'd better be a damn good reason which will hold up at a board of inquiry. Less violent but still nasty things (memory wipe of uncooperative aliens) are only allowed if a situation meets certain criteria, and has to be authorized under Rule Sigma-019§11 or the "Uncovering Subversive Activities by Prosecuting Alien Terrorists, Romulan Impostors and Other Traitors Act" or some such. The elaborate setup and deception might be taught in advanced tactics. But that entire scenario shouldn't be in every captain's handbook. Bluffing is fairly ordinary. Drugging an alien and setting up a flight simulator and voice synthesizer to trick him into revealing classified weapons information should be reserved for truly extreme times -- as this is.

Having said all that, I think Archer and crew did a damn fine job, especially with the double fake-out. I was taken for the ride both times. I liked seeing all the senior officers working here and there, doing their jobs, contributing where it was appropriate. I loved that Archer finally displayed a two-digit I.Q. and asked T'Pol for help in setting up his backstory. And it was a good backstory, using every scrap of information they've gleaned so far. This is how a Starfleet crew -- even a primitive, bumbling, mistake-making Starfleet crew -- should be doing their jobs.

You know, it doesn't help matters when not only does ENT crib from other series, but it starts cribbing from itself. There was a boatload of "Twilight" in the first 15 minutes. I kept waiting for Archer to say there were only six thousand Terrans left (again). I know, steal from the best, but come on!

I liked the long teaser, a lot. It hooked me immediately and held my interest. I actually forgot that we hadn't seen the theme song yet.

Since ENT doesn't have shields, I keep double-taking every time shields are mentioned. 'Fleet does know the technology exists, they just don't have it for our ships. Or something. Like the cloaking device. Actually I never got that either -- why would we sign a treaty agreeing to let a major enemy (or two, if you count the Klingons) keep their biggest tactical advantage? I digress...

'Cause I got Pac-Man Fever

Dude, the magic pellet is wide open! The ghosts are on the lateral thrusters!

Okay, the readouts on the shuttle were totally ripped off from Pac-Man, I am not kidding.

Um, how would our intrepid crew know that (a) XindiBugs have prison colonies rather than prisons or just mass graves (b) XindiBug prisoners get serial number tattoos? That must've been some letter Degra wrote to his wife.

Speaking of whom, I like that we're seeing Degra as a more rounded character, not a cardboard "good individual of a bad race" like Xindi Rogers from "The Shipment." He's bad for creating the Weapon, but loves his wife and children. Clearly he feels he's acting in the defense of his people against a horrible aggressor, but we can see he's a man with a certain amount of honor and pride who isn't warmongering. Under the right circumstances, maybe he will defy the Bugs and Snakes on the Council and not FOOM Terra. Randy Oglesby is doing a nice job with him too, and plays off Bakula well. When the bloodworm surfaces (heh) on Degra's arm, and Archer casually tosses off "it'll work its way out," you can see Degra's emotions warring on his face: Do I trust him? Do I make myself vulnerable? Do I take the lesser risk and keep this slug in my wrist? It's a nice moment. (and Xindi blood is also red...file for future hmmm.)

I'm very impressed that Craftsman socket sets from Sears are still being sold and used in the 2100s. There's one on the wall just behind Archer as he digs up the bottle of hooch.

Any particular reason why all the Xindi species have to live on the same chunk of rock? Find a nice waterworld for the XindiWhales, a jungle planet for the XindiSnakes, and so on. If it's so hard for them to agree on anything, why not split up? Obviously everyone has faster-than-light propulsion and those nifty subspace vortices, so it's not like they can't visit and trade.

Why didn't Archer ask how Degra learned of the "human threat"? I should think that would be an enormous part of the puzzle. If they find out who told the Xindi about their planet being destroyed -- and when, 120 years ago or 400 years from now? -- they might find the key to stopping the whole mess.

Cap'n does hand the bloodworm back to Phlox! I thought it was a blood sample at first, but on second viewing, knowing what's really going on, you can see it's the tube with the worm.

I wonder if whatever force is pulling the strings in this arc chose the Xindi because they're so crappy at long-term thinking. Consider: they've just tested their prototype planet-cracking weapon. Something went wrong, which they haven't tracked down yet. A mysterious third-party ship was snooping around the testing ground. The prototype vanished and was destroyed (and I'm not even sure if we know if the Xindi know what happened to the prototype). Do they chase down the mystery ship and reduce it to bolts and girders? Do they send a contingent of XindiBugs after "the Earth vessel" to remove that obstacle? Do they keep a guard on the testing ground to see if the mystery ship or the Terran ship might come back? Noooooo! This is essentially the same thing as having Archer hold the "right" opinion and the other senior staff look like idiots just so that all the options in a given situation can be aired -- the Xindi do all the dumbest stuff, so that Enterprise can get to where it needs to be. It's sloppy storytelling.

I liked the camera work in the briefing, except the final moment when everyone's head swivels towards Archer almost simultaneously. Unintentionally giggle-producing. The whole briefing is fantastic, actually. This is the kind of meeting we saw all the time in TNG, and it's immediately obvious why: people get to talk, and share ideas, and troubleshoot one another, without anyone looking foolish (see my previous point). Why can't we see this more often? It doesn't have to be a formal meeting; it can be the typical hallway chat. It's just annoying to see bright people acting like cabbageheads for the sake of plot advancement.

Phlox was channeling Yoda for a minute there when talking about the graying effect of stress on Degra's hair -- "and torture! Hmm? Yes, torture the hair gray does!" (Personally, I think having an alien Onychophoran crawling around my innards would certainly be sufficient to turn all my hair gray.)

I really liked seeing the armed MACO standing outside the simulator, just in case. Even Hayes is on the ball this week.

"Engage" doesn't sound right coming from the Big Chair if there isn't a bald Brit saying it....

I do have one question about the "three years later" look -- Archer has long hair, but no beard? We have no way of knowing if XindiApes have facial hair, but humans do. If Archer the prisoner had access to something which kept his beard nicely shaved, why didn't he cut his hair? Or a guard's throat? Fortunately for our crew, the Xindi just have no capacity for tactical reasoning. Degra didn't even know, or wonder, about Archer's android-bottom cheeks.

While I tend to bitch about Bakula being wooden, watching Archer writhe in unspeaking agony as Degra quietly describes the probe's attack from his perspective was a beautiful little piece of work. And his "thanks...gotcha" look as the second ruse is revealed made me cheer. So kudos where kudos is due.

February 8, 2004: A new link! Can I say again how repeatedly surprised I am that TripHammered is read so much across the pond? I'm very flattered. CultTVKingdom is a U.K.-based site (unrelated to Cult TV magazine) with basic but solid information on almost two dozen current and cancelled "cult" shows, like Angel, Buffy, Firefly, Charmed, Jeremiah (I never heard of that one), Sliders, Highlander, Dark Angel, The X-Files, Roswell, and of course Enterprise. Brief episode summaries, actor filmographies, promo photos, and links to related sites. Easy to get around.

Mal plotting

Malcolm plots how many different ways he can depose the captain and XO so that he and Trip can take command.

February 11, 2004: Ironic that the episode was called "Harbinger," which means "precursor" or "foreshadow," when so much of the ep (nay, the series) happens out of the blue.

I loved the Malcolm/Hayes fight, but did you notice that they had to go all the way back to the premiere for the "Previously on Enterprise" scenes, because there has been no tension between them in 14 episodes? I think Hayes does have the right idea in that everyone could use more training, but why didn't we see this as a running D-plot? Little jabs at each other in the hallway, opening or closing several eps with Mal sparring or mirrorboxing, A MACO making a comment -- it takes so little, and the payoff is so tremendous.

Other than that, the plotline was pretty good. I did get tired of seeing Mal humiliated, but once he decided to fight back, it was a thing of beauty. Dominic Keating did an outstanding job from start to finish, with every twitch, jaw clench, eye roll, shift, arm crossing, and snarl. The camera work wasn't all that, but the two actors (and their stunt doubles, of course) were great in pounding the tar out of each other. And we got to see the Reed Walk™ and the Flying Horizontal Tackle! So very cool.

I would have liked to hear more introspection on Mal's part. What has he seen which has convinced him that Hayes wants Security? What specific fears of Mal's are being fed by Hayes's behavior? Does Hayes remind him of past bullies? Other commanding officers? His father? Himself?

We don't need any more proof; the jury has come back: Archer is clinically nuts if he thinks that the MACOs have been tactically superior to 'Fleeters, in anything, let alone taking out the Xindi which they were specifically brought along to do. They may have more combat experience against Terrans, but Malcolm's people (well, to be honest, just Malcolm -- there haven't been all that many NPCs on the ground) have had experience fighting non-Terrans, as he pointed out. Each group could have learned from the other. And maybe they will, or they could if someone running the show had two IQ points to rub together and understood about juggling multiple arcs, or character development.

So the Melting Molecules Alien is...a seriously messed-up Suliban? One of Future Guy's race? (One and the same?) Someone whose people were defeated by the Terrans in X hundred years, and eliminating them now means the race will survive in the future? The most fascinating part of the show, in terms of advancing the Xindi arc, and it's the last line. Captain de Sade returns to play psycho cop/good cop, but that shouldn't faze Doctor Phloxenstein -- after all, the man let his own "son" die a cold and lonely death, so what's he worried about with this alien?

Recycled Trek Actor Checklist: Thomas Kopache (the Melting Molecules Alien) was Tos in "Broken Bow," an unnamed engineer in TNG's "Emergence" and Mirok in "The Next Phase," Kiran Taban in DS9's "Wrongs Darker Than Death or Night" and "Ties of Blood and Water," Vorsa in VOY's "The Thaw," and an unnamed conn officer in Generations.

Trip took some minor damage, so I'll have a screencap for that Friday or so. Food Chain intact.

I will not be discussing Trip and T'Pol. At all. Do not ask. I am not interested.

Trip and Mal glaring over lunch

Trip: Ah said no.
Malcolm: Not even a small piece?
Trip (yelling): Ah don't like spam!
Malcolm: Shh, Commander, don't cause a fuss. I'll have your spam. I love it. I'm having spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, spam, baked beans, spam, spam, spam, and spam!
Trip: Chef said the baked beans were off.

February 13, 2003: Apologies in advance if my claws are bit sharp this week; it was just one of those episodes.

I think the title should have been something along the lines of "Territory," because that's what was being fought over here: Mal and Hayes over Security, Archer and the Melting Molecules Alien/Xindi over Terra. The only thing "harbinged" was the MMA's final line, letting us know he was more than he'd originally admitted. The rest of the show was wrapping up stuff which was introduced in the premiere and never went anywhere.

Trip commented that Malcolm and Hayes are a lot alike, but here's the difference as I see it (and my military readers are welcome to weigh in with their own comments): Hayes is a soldier. Malcolm is from a career military family. To Hayes, orders and training and advancement are purely the job. He does a damn good job, and he enjoys it, but it's a job. To the Reeds, the military (specifically the Royal Navy) is a way of life. It's nearly a religion. It's a code of ethics, a matter of honor and pride, a reflection on oneself and one's bloodline. So when Mal interprets Hayes's brisk manner and aggressive (or ambitious) tactics as a threat, it's because the other career military people whom Mal has seen act this way are out for blood. They aren't merely moving up the ladder, they're waging a war of attrition on rivals and their reputations. Hayes, on the other hand, is accustomed to jockeying on the job and then sharing beer and pretzels at the club after hours. When Mal takes his work maneuvers personally, Hayes thinks Mal is being an overly sensitive paranoid idiot. What does Hayes yell at Malcolm the first time he pins the lieutenant? "Why won't you let me do my job?" Not "Why are you getting in my way?" or "I'll see you never do X again!" which Mal was likely expecting. Of course, now that they've pounded the stuffing out of each other, they'll get along just fine, instead of a continuing sly one-upmanship like Quark and Odo used to do on DS9.

Listening to Archer's reasoning for agreeing to Hayes's proposal, I am yet again struck by how much of this expository, ground-laying, character-developing interpersonal tension should have gone on in the first 12 episodes. Imagine if we'd seen this training session (and just the first one, not the whole plot) as the opening D-plotline instead of the groping in "Extinction." Malcolm and Hayes could have fought at cross-tactics when the Xindi came on board to collect Faster Pussycat, thus actually supplying a reason why everyone was mowed down so quickly. They could have been sniping at each other in "The Shipment," leading Archer to be irritated with them for picking fights during an away mission, which would have explained why he was such a jerk (and then became so nice) to Xindi Rogers. Et cetera et al, you get my point. Then when "Territory" rolls around, it makes sense for them to be at each other's throats in the halls, because we've seen three months of simmering. Buuuuut I suppose we'd have to rehire the DS9 writing staff for that kind of thinking, and they've moved on to bigger and better things.

"Why not let them [the MACOs] pass on some of that expertise?" Archer wonders. Malcolm licks his lips, fidgets, blinks hard, and finally manages to look the captain in the eye, with an expression which clearly says Because you're a blithering numbskull, sir, and the only reason I haven't killed you yet is that it's such a nuisance to get bloodstains out of these uniforms. (That, and his innate politeness won't let him murder his commanding officer without giving Trip first dibs.) Archer babbles on, "Hayes and his men [sic] have gone up against a few aliens on this mission, including the Xindi. They've handled themselves pretty well." Bull! Against whom did the MACOs do well? Weak prisoners being poisoned by mining fumes? 18th-century cowboys with six-shooters? We've seen what the MACOs do when the Xindi show up: retreat. And get shot. Give me a break. (Granted, Mal's kids haven't done so much better, but at least they don't run away when faced with the primary enemy they were imported to take out.)

Jeez, Trav got a lot of lines this week! And Montgomery got to show off his ju-jitsu training (or so Dominic Keating claims). It's actually almost disturbing to hear him talk at this point -- I keep expecting something to explode in his face or drop down from the ceiling and possess him.

The SFX guys on Trek have spoken at conventions about getting inspiration and materials for planets, nebulae, explosions, etc. One guy who worked on TNG joked that he'd come into work one day and found he'd stepped in a pile of doggie doo, and his coworkers found the resulting texture so cool they digitized it and started using it as a render map, giving birth to "the dogs--t planet." Well, here on ENT, we have the Pizza Anomaly. C'mon, a big bubbling vaguely horizontal orange and yellow mess -- you're trying to tell me they didn't come up with that over a Friday afternoon lunch? (Maybe that's where Lysarian clone mozzarella come from, and they're seeking vengeance. "Hallo. My name is Inigo Mozzarella. You grilled my father. Prrrepare to die.")

You know, I so hope Phlox scanned the inside of the pod before Trip and Mal opened it to make sure the atmosphere inside wasn't poisonous ("Nope, just some dry ice; you'll be fine as long as you don't stick your head in it for ten minutes.") and that Enterprise's air won't kill the occupant. Or that said occupant isn't a bony shrill stuck-up princess in a dainty lavender gauze gown.

Director David Livingston must have been feeling experimental for this ep, or maybe he was talking with Roxann Dawson, because there are an awful lot of strange crane shots. There didn't seem to be a purpose for shooting from so far overhead most of the time. Kind of odd.

Phlox tells Archer that the MMA is awake but in pain. "Thanks for softening him up for me," Captain de Sade responds. "That saves me a trip to the airlock."

I'm not sure whether I think the MACO went too far in bloodying Travis. They are training for hand-to-hand combat, and learning how to save their lives. At some point you have to learn to block a real punch, not a pulled one. It is an exercise, but when I was taking a self-defense course in college, the instructors had protective padding and we were told to go full force. (I did get my nails inside the face mask of one guy by accident and took a strip of skin off his cheek, three days before he had to go to a wedding. Sorry, Louis.)

I suppose I've been watching Trek too long (or maybe just TV in general), but when a character announces things like "I come from a transdimensional realm," I immediately assume he's lying. And when Archer brings up the Exploding Zealots' creation myth regarding the spheres' Makers, I immediately assume he's wrong. These painfully obvious deductions and bald statements are usually red herrings, aren't they? I guess I was surprised to see so many people in the audience taking these declarations at face value.

Lunch with Trip and Malcolm was wonderful, but Trip's accent wandered away again. Still, two friends supporting each other, concerned for each other, nagging and needling and busting on each other -- these two are great. I still say we could have stayed in the "Twilight" universe and just watched these two run the show, so to speak, for the remainder of the season. Note that when the security team enters Engineering, the first thing Malcolm does is rush over to Trip to check on him. MMA forgotten, Hayes forgotten -- is Mister Tucker all right?

The MMA is...a genetically enhanced Suliban? And they're testing him to see how he adapts to how the spheres change the conditions of space? So, what, the Xindi or the Suliban or Future Guy is planning on littering the AQ with spheres and pizzaing the pre-Federation cultures out of existence? (I think Frederic Brown had a similar idea in a short story about the "first" Martians -- Terran children given "adaptine," mediTECH which allowed them to adapt gradually but quickly to their environment, so by the time the experiment was done, the children were able to survive on Mars as "natives" and they booted the unadapted Terrans off. It's a neat concept. I could go with that.) He looks a little like Tosk, too, doesn't he?

It was confusing when the MMA attacked Phlox, though: he started by choking Phlox (meaning he's solid) but knocked the doctor out by phasing through his neck. He can climb the warp core ladder, but the phaser shots go right through him. And we have no idea what he did to Trip. Sort of like Dejaren the Killer Hologram -- he could stick his hand into B'Elanna's chest, but solidify just enough to grab her heart. How conveeeenient. And what was he trying to accomplish up there on the warp core anyway? Destabilize the warp field? Grab the coils? Go back in time?

I really liked watching Malcolm during the all-out fight with Hayes. Once he gets his groove, he's relaxed, confident, cocky, free of any doubts. Whatever his father or his past has done to him, in these moments he's purely on top. He knows exactly what he can do. (Which is why he was so pissed about shooting badly, because he knows he can do better.) Unfortunately, the stunt doubles were not quite as fun to watch, being so obviously stunt doubles, but what can ya do. And, let us not forget, our favorite armoury officer ain't a half-bad engineer either -- he was able to come up with a way to take out the MMA when Trip was unconscious (and, mysteriously, all the Engineering staff was missing). Hayes, who is only a soldier, and has very little experience of wearing multiple hats on a small starship, couldn't have contributed anything.

At the end, after the MMA has been clobbered, Malcolm and Hayes are standing next to each other, having worked together well. They look at the bad guy, then look at each other, then look back to the bad guy. Moogie says "And now they start fighting again."

Archer dresses the combatants down. First of all, if he's telling them not to act like five-year-olds, why is he scolding them as if they're seven? Janeway told off Paris and Kim much better. And secondly, what was with his bizarre posture? In the beginning of the scene he's shoved himself into the corner, right hand awkwardly jammed into his armpit. Was it chilly in the ready room? He was trying to give himself neuropressure? (Which would mean either it's really not as intimate as we've been led on to believe, or Viacom just broke another decency standard.)

February 18, 2003: Okay, that was good. I didn't see the end coming.

A fairly broad lift of VOY's "One," with a little "Nightmare at 20,000 Feet" (Shatner's version), a little Sixth Sense, and a healthy dollop of "the First can't have corporeal form so pay attention to who isn't touching anything" from Buffy. Definitely will rewatch more carefully. That did take all the wind out of the sails of my "T'Pol's a flaming moron" rant, though...

Breezy and Windy were great this week -- hitting all the marks, the little leap over the camera, running, barking, pawing, jumping on Archer. It's nice to see professionals at work. Kudos to the dogs and the trainers.

We knew we couldn't have a discussion about Denobulans without some mention of their marriages, but it was a small one. I liked the societal details; it was interesting to hear how they've turned lack of space into a happy community rather than turning on one another.

Hobbitses

T'Pol: If you collapse, Mister Phloxo, I am not carrying you up there on my shoulders.
Phlox: That's hardly the behavior of a loyal colleague.
T'Pol: Loyal my skinny Vulcan butt, I'm a figment of your delusion!
Phlox:
Well, if I dreamed you up, you ought to be nicer to
me, don't you think?
T'Pol: Just throw the stupid ring into the core already.
Phlox: Or Porthosum will bite my finger off trying to get it?
T'Pol: There'd be less risk of that if you'd washed your hands after eating that cheese popcorn.

Letters? Apparently they can get some communication through to the Expanse....

I wonder how many people picked up on the repeated thought that Trip is willing to sacrifice himself for the mission, or that in Phlox's delusion Gremlin T'Pol thought Trip was essentially expendable. I'm willing to consider that Phlox was basically dreaming out loud and was repeating Trip's statement, since Phlox insisted that he wasn't ready to wake Trip up to kill him yet, but how does that tie back to "Similitude"? Phlox turned his back on his "son" to save Trip. Archer and Phlox conspired to commit murder to keep Trip alive because Archer felt that without Trip the mission could not succeed. Trip patently does not feel that way. Did anyone tell him exactly what Archer said? What Phlox did? What was Trip told about Sim?

I loved the shot just before Phlox attempts to start the warp engines -- the camera angle makes them look like frantic hobbits, staring up the edge of Mount Doom. And director Roxann Dawson borrowed a page out of castmate Robbie McNeill's book and did a brief slow-closing-in shot on Phlox and Gremlin T'Pol in the galley.

As Phlox is stalking through the cargo bay, holding a phase pistol and a flashlight, and passes the yellow barrels, did anyone else wonder if the Snot Monster from "Vox Sola" was going to be curled up in the corner? (Dawson directed that one too!)

Nice pass-the-buck squabble between Phlox and Gremlin T'Pol -- "You're a scientist!" "You have a dozen degrees!" "I'm a doctor, not an engineer!" "Well, there's the database, go RTFM!"

Trav is silenced again. Hoshi has a latex moment (which was pretty creepy and cool). Mal will be so proud to hear Phlox armed himself immediately and remembered how to transfer power to the hull plating.

Obviously no Recycled Trek Actors. Food Chain intact. More commentary Friday.

Trip looking worried

Look, nothin' personal, but...the last time Ah was in a coma, you and Doctor Mengele over there went kinda pyscho. Ah'm not sure Ah trust you two to put me under again. Ah might wake up to find you wiped out a 200-year-old civilization to save me or somethin'.

February 20, 2004: Another misplaced Halloween episode! Although if they'd run this around "Impulse" we would all have been complaining about recycling plots too quickly, so...

We see very little of our boy this episode, but as often happens he steals whatever scene he's in. I was so busy chuckling over his focus on food at the end that I never noticed he didn't even acknowledge (Gremlin) T'Pol behind him.

Silent Trav was completely silent this week -- the only time his lips moved, Phlox was VOing a flashback. At least Hoshi got to have some fun with latex.

Kudos to Bakula, or perhaps his woodenness came in handy: he absolutely did not flinch when the dog licked his face.

Say what you want about comparing Talaxian anatomy to Denobulan, but at least Neelix's toenails didn't come around the corner a minute before he did. (Although Phlox's shoes aren't excessively long -- does he have retractable tarsal claws?)

Okay, let's think about this: the crew is told they're going to be in comas for four days. Why does every single person remain in uniform, and lie down on top of the covers of their bunks? Wouldn't you think at least someone would change into pajamas? Also, humans can go about nine days without food, but only two or three days without water. In "One," the crew was in stasis, and therefore TECHnically didn't need food or water -- but the ENT crew is just unconscious. In "Waking Moments," Holodoc spoke of having to feed the crew intravenously after less than 48 hours. Why doesn't Phlox have the same concerns?

Regarding resisting comas: Look, not for anything, but it wasn't like they had a choice. Anyone who stayed awake would die. Period. Not "go insane and maybe you can handle it and maybe you can't." Why would anyone argue once the decision was made? Either they're going through the LSD Pizza Space in comas or they're going around it awake. Those are the options. Separately, I find that bit of mediTECH hard to swallow -- it would make more sense to say that people would go insane -- but it's less difficult than, say, Vulcan neuropressure.

Quite a bit of lipstick for Trip and Mal in the briefing scene. Someone needs to tell Makeup to dial back the pink already.

Do Denobulans sleep or not? In "Two Days and Two Nights," Phlox says that they hibernate, but doesn't actually say they don't sleep. Gremlin T'Pol talking about Phlox getting some sleep could just be delusional babbling. I ask because if he does sleep, how does Trip expect him to check whateveritwas in Engineering every two hours?

Why was Phlox nekkid? Did he forget to get dressed? Another sweeps stunt? You'd think it would be a little drafty walking around like that -- and what happened to "male Denobulan body shyness"? Was it supposed to reflect that he was unraveling? Or a clue that he actually was alone on the ship? I added that line to the Drinking Game as a gag; I didn't expect it to happen for real!

Muncha buncha, leeches go with lunch

"Do Not Eat"? How did Dawson get into my kitchen for a prop?

The pellet with the poison's in the vessel with the pestle; the chalice from the palace has the brew that is true. Reading it on the screen, that's not so hard, is it? :D

Gremlin T'Pol wears red (or at first pomegranate) the entire time. A little Sixth Sense nod?

The ship has seven decks? Why did I always think it only had five?...

John Billingsley does a great job playing "Scared Phlox," pitching his voice a solid octave higher than normal, overemphasizing the usual rising-and-falling cadence he uses, the twitching and gasping. Even if the character is slowly becoming a sociopath, the actor's got chops.

I know, now, that Gremlin T'Pol of course couldn't touch anything in Engineering or actually help Phlox, but it's excruciating to watch her being stupid, and I'm not the only one who thought it was painful rather than funny. Blalock mugs nicely; she's just not cut out to be a Vulcan.

February 25, 2004: When I saw "story by André Bormanis and Mike Sussman" I knew we'd be in for a damn good ride, and so we were. Taut, interesting, great character interactions, nice followups, good performances almost all around, and the only skin we saw was the captain coming out of the shower.

Of course "Hatchery" brings to mind the understated eloquence of TOS's "Obsession," and pays it due homage without being a ripoff. We've had "the captain's lost his/her marbles" episodes on the other series, to be certain, but this is only the third time which I can recall when a captain was justifiably threatened with being relieved of command (VOY's "Year of Hell" being the third). Archer was creepily effective in channeling Willard, letting the baby CGI bugs crawl up and down his arms and shoulders. He actually seemed mostly sane except for his need to take care of the infants -- his reasons were arguable -- which made it all the worse.

And Archer wasn't all wrong, was he? This is one of the Great Trek Ideals, showing how we can be compassionate when dealing with children (like VOY's "Parturition" and "Innocence"), even when they are the children of our enemies. In another episode, if Archer wasn't on XindiCrack, this could have been the beginning of the end of the conflict, when they see we aren't as ruthless as rumor has it.

Trip with pistol

Trip: Oh, man, bugs! Ah hate bugs. Even CGI bugs. And now they're crawlin' all over the captain. Ah'm gettin' the screamin' meemies just lookin' at 'im.
Malcolm: Well, stun him.
Trip: Hey, that's not a bad idea!
Malcolm: ... to chase the vermin off?
Trip: Oh, yeah, well. That too.

Trip had fantastic scenes with everyone. There isn't an actor on the cast who doesn't do their best work with Trinneer. Trip's anguish over violating his loyalty to an old friend, the immediate and increasing realization that the captain is unraveling, checking himself against his other most trusted friend, standing up to the captain's irrationality with unhappiness and dignity -- he was a marvel to behold. (And I bet Mal gave him a standing ovation for not letting Archer talk him into doing anything stupid, but merely sighing and shooting him.)

I was pleased to see the Malcolm-Hayes followup, and extremely pleased that they had not resolved their quarrel. It's dismayingly typical of Trek to drop in and out of that kind of fight, and to see that they still had issues with one another was refreshingly realistic. It was equally good to watch them slowly work towards understanding each other -- precisely the kind of gradual D-plot character growth which I've been begging for. Mal realized the video games -- sorry, the simulations were worthwhile and apologized for being hasty; Hayes admitted that all the tacsims in the galaxy couldn't prepare him for the reality of space travel.

And speaking of Hayes, this continues to support my theory about why he and Mal aren't getting along. Hayes is a soldier. Soldiers follow orders, with very rare exceptions. Even the head soldier isn't supposed to think too much beyond orders. Malcolm is an officer. He is supposed to think. He should be questioning egregiously strange commands which put the crew at unnecessary risk. Malcolm does understand and love the chain of command, but he doesn't worship it blindly. We don't know if Hayes can unbend enough to understand the Starfleet way. He thinks he can, but I think Malcolm made the right decision in not trusting Hayes to join the mutiny. Will Malcolm have to pay later for not trusting the Major? Will it be thrown back in his face, or used as a taunt or a plea? Depends on who's writing the script.

Keating turned in an excellent performance, steely but nuanced. Blalock was fine except for the first scene in her quarters with Trip, when she paced agitatedly and repeatedly raised her voice. Steven Culp (Hayes) was solid and believable. Good direction from franchise newbie Michael Grossman. Bormanis kept the script well grounded and Sussman does amazing dialogue.

Damn, Travis put his training to work! He attacked Hayes! I love it! And Hoshi stood up to the Major too! (Not that we'd expect less than loyalty from the other senior officers, but she was able to get a line out of it.)

Why do the "Previously on Enterprise" clips continue to reference "Twilight"? Not that I didn't love it, but in this timeline it didn't happen.

Perhaps a little too much lipstick on Malcolm in the video game scene, but all right otherwise. Bakula's hair person is having a field day playing with the gray and brown dyes. He's aging! He's recovering! He's fifty! He's forty! Quick, cut it even closer to his skull! Now fluff it forward!

No damage. Food Chain intact. No Recycled Trek Actors, just MACOs whom we've seen before. More commentary Friday as usual. Oh, admit it, someday you'll miss reading that.

February 27, 2004: I apologize for the lousy photo quality of the last few weeks. The generous and kind Lee of Phasers.net was very gracious in getting me a few screencaps. Go check out his funny new page, Counting the MACOs.

Trip shooting

Ah told you if you started talkin' about baby gazelles again that Ah'd stun you into next week. It's for your own good, Cap'n.

You know what? I don't care if "Twilight" didn't happen in this timeline and therefore shouldn't be part of the previews; I get such joy out of seeing Captain Tucker again that they can make it part of the preview every week.

I was a little off: in TOS's "Turnabout Intruder," Janice Lester in Kirk's body was relieved of duty for aberrant behavior. I'm not 100% sure that counts, but it's not completely irrelevant to the discussion. As I recall, the crew notices the captain is acting weirdly (Scotty says memorably, "I've seen the captain feverish, sick, drunk, delirious, terrified, overjoyed, boiling mad. But up to now, I have never seen him red-faced with hysteria.") and when Spock questions what's going on, the captain accuses him of mutiny.

I think it's a little specious for Archer to claim he recognizes the ship design of the varying Xindi species. Maybe "it doesn't look like the Xindi ships we've seen before," which would make sense without sounding stupid or arrogant.

"Put a team together," Archer tells Malcolm. "And make sure you jam as many of the senior officers as you can manage into one pod, thereby exposing the chain of command to the most possible risk." I'm beginning to agree with Riker about not letting the captain lead away missions.

Anybody else think the bulbous grapevines of eggs were going to sprout face-huggers? Or that the babies would start chawing on Archer when they hatched?

It was nice to hear Malcolm mention his father in a positive context -- he sounded amused rather than revolted when recalling his father's bug collecting. I could see two anal-retentives fussing over exactly how a wing should lie, where to place each specimen for best viewing, precise taxonomy, etc.

I enjoyed seeing all the exchanges of speaking looks and double-takes between crewmembers, conveying bewilderment, disbelief, discomfort, amazement, fear, and resignation. Grossman got a lot of nice performance details out of the cast. And T'Pol's dryly astonished line in Sickbay --"Do you plan to hold a funeral?" -- was just classic.

Trip tells T'Pol and Malcolm that restoring the Xindi reactor will take a third of Enterprise's anti-matter. "That's not going to leave much for our torpedoes," muses Lieutenant Trigger-Happy, "...never mind our engines," he adds graciously for Trip's benefit. Priorities in order.

"Humans don't throw morality out the window when things start getting a little tough," Archer preaches pompously. Audience members across the country snarf and sputter and wait for Captain de Sade's nose to grow, or lightning to strike him.... Actually, I was waiting for T'Pol to trot out the "good of the many" argument at this point. She knows all kinds of Vulcan Fu, but not one of their basic proverbs?

Poor Archer. Even his war stories pale in comparison to the other captains -- Janeway was fighting Cardassians first-hand, Sisko lost his wife to the Borg and a lot of friends to the Dominion, Picard was tortured by Cardassians and assimilated, Kirk was, well, Captain Kirk, and Archer only has a story about his great-grandfather. Of course, when he gets home he could tell stories about "when I was in the Delphic Expanse hunting Xindi," but they'll have an R rating.

I was carefully watching the scene where Archer gets dressed, because during the first run-through I wasn't sure if he put on socks. I'm fairly sure he did; he had enough time while he was sitting down. But it was amusing to think that he was so messed in the head that he'd put on his uniform and forgotten socks.

T'Pol's been skipping her Valium again. When will Blalock figure out that Vulcans don't raise their voices in upset? Or quaver, rasp, or, um, gee, show emotions? Sigh.

Mal smirking

Ah, I know what you're thinking, you berk. You're thinking, "Did he fire six torpedoes or only five?" Now, to tell you the truth, I've forgotten myself in all this excitement. But being as this is the starship Enterprise, the most powerful ship in the fleet, and will blast your vessel into atoms, you've got to ask yourself a question: "Do I feel lucky?" Well, do you, prat?

Malcolm did an excellent job in command: crisp, calm, decisive, attempt disability before destruction. He would have done the Intrepid proud. May still, someday. Maybe that's why they showed the "Twilight" clip. Notice he even smirks before ordering torpedoes to be fired. Truly, this man loves his job.

Moogie was disappointed at how the MACOs failed to fight back, or even put up any kind of coherent defense. I know it makes the 'Fleeters look good, but the MACOs are supposed to be the elite of the elite. They should not have fallen for a grenade. They should not have let Trip and Mal get off a quip before stunning. I will say it's consistent; almost all we've seen of the MACOs is that they're lousy shots and run away. Maybe Malcolm is right about the simulation training being insufficient preparation for real space service.

I know that in this instance the 'Fleet uniform which T'Pol nabbed was not supposed to fit her, but Wardrobe did the same thing to Blalock in "Twilight." Linda Park's uniforms are nicely tailored, so it's not like they don't know how. What gives?

Wow, Trip and the NPC leapt onto that transporter pad with hardly a second glance, didn't they? That got to be conveniently safe pretty quickly.

When Trip goes down to stun Archer in the hatchery, a baby XindiBug skitters by. Watch Trip's face -- ew! ew! bugs! They continue, and he sees another. eeewwwww! Dammit! (Frankly, watching the little buggers skitter all over Archer, I was going "ew!" myself.)

Regarding Archer getting marked, or "reverse-imprinted," by the eggs: What would have happened once they were all hatched and safe? Would the imprinting have worn off, or would Archer have stayed to fuss over them? Or called for a Xindi ship and then in his delusion decided that the Xindi weren't going to be good enough parents, and booted them out to care for the babies himself? wombat61 posited:

More likely would be (actually in keeping with Archer's misplaced trusting nature) a falsely optimistic idea that the arriving Xindi would be absolutely and unconditionally grateful to the Humans. On the other hand, if one were to push the insect analogy as hard as it could go, some colony insects react to other creatures by the scent. If the babies are continuing to "slather" him with Xindi parental/ Xindi nest chemicals, he might have been recognized as a fellow "caretaker." Then again, they might have just cut him up and fed him to the children -- too big a risk to take, just like [the Terrans] sending a distress signal, or letting the Xindi ship get away.

We did see a little of this right before he relieved Malcolm; he thought that if they'd just explained the situation to the arriving Xindi, they would take the babies. After all, if Archer were another insectoid Xindi, that's pretty much what would happen. (My grandfather was like this too. He was convinced if you just explained to someone what they were doing wrong, they would stop it. Never mind that "what they were doing wrong" could be, like, you know, not being able to find a job. I loved Papá but sometimes he just didn't get it.)

I wish we could have seen Archer give more at the end. The little arm-punch seemed very stiff, rather awkward, almost formal. I would think a good friend would give Trip's arm a squeeze, or rest his hand on Trip's shoulder -- something with longer contact, to indicate an emotional connection, or affection. You know, a gesture which would reflect on Archer's part the friendship they're supposed to have? Trinneer is friggin' amazing, managing to carry that alleged relationship entirely by himself. You could read in the undercurrents of every scene how hard he was struggling with the idea that his friend was unreachable and his captain was going bonkers. "You're asking me to betray him," he told T'Pol -- you betray a friend, you mutiny against a CO. Once Malcolm was swayed, he had no doubts, because it was all professional. Trip had to get over the hurdle of going against someone he really cares about. And listen to how gentle his voice is when he calls up to the ship to have Phlox standing by -- "Got a patient for him." His heart is really aching.

Speaking of Trinneer's wonderful performance, Archer4Trip pointed out a detail which I missed in the last scene: Trip comes into the captain's quarters and speaks for a few moments before sitting. down. Watch his right hand -- he can't stop clenching and unclenching it. It's a nervous gesture which very subtly shows how upset he is about what he had to do. Whether it was Trinneer's idea or the director's, it was a marvelous touch.

February 29, 2004: It's a clean sweep! 11 Oscars for Lord of the Rings, including Best Picture and Best Director! Congratulations!

Don't let T'Pol drive!

T'Pol channels Picard on the Stargazer, but lacking a shirt to tug down (and having too much hair), she fails to come up with a miraculous saving-their-butts maneuver worthy of being named after her.

March 3, 2004: Damn. Daaaaamn. It took the other modern Trek series three season to hit their stride, and ENT is right on time. Wow. Okay, several times I was making a joke and it promptly happened (T'Pol: "I'll be in the Ready Room." evay: "Crying my eyes out." -- Wait, I was joking! Archer approaches the weapon cradle. evay: And it's gone. -- Wait, I was just kidding!), but that was sort of cool. This was a damn fine episode.

Manny Coto finally starts penance for his last two episodes (and B&B for the last two seasons) with this sizzler. Slightly strange camera angles but we'll let it go. I loved loved loved the cut-the-narration fades -- we know Trip and Trav get out safely, we don't need to see it, cut to the chase -- and diving right in and out of the story with no opener and no finish. Very cool storytelling.

Speaking of penance -- whoa! Allofasudden Archer grows a brain and a conscience and pops in the retractable spine? Did he get visited by the three Ghosts of Oz Christmas? Why can't we have this Archer every week? This was really impressive. He remembered who died, and WHY, and at long last tries to offer up something in exchange.

How odd, but not incomprehensible, that once Archer made the decision to go on the suicide mission, he was...almost normal. Buoyant, amused, relaxed, charming. He realized that there were no more consequences which he could do anything about, and that released him from concern or fear. Chilling to watch. Good job by Bakula. Let's give the man credit when he gets it right!

Continuity out the wazoo, for everyone. Trav and Hoshi not only get lines, they get to do their jobs. I guess, thinking about it, we did get a decent amount of foreshadowing for the trans-dimensional Sphere Builder aliens -- I'm just going to call them the Tesseracts, because it's easier to type -- reshaping the Expanse to fit their species. We were guessing that the Xindi were being manipulated from the future. We pretty much knew the Terrans did not blow up the new Xindi homeworld. So why does it feel so contrived? Is it the time-travel aspect? If Daniels can yank Archer out of his ship, why doesn't he just grab Degra and the Council? They could talk to future Xindi and not need Archer at all. And does this fantastic cliff-hanger mean Archer will be off the ship for several episodes? (No wonder the next one is called "Damage.")

Trip was wonderful as XO and de facto counselor. Gentle and supportive but firm, acknowledging grief but not letting it overwhelm him. I wish we'd had more time to see, for example, Trip saying his final goodbye to his captain and friend, because that would have really made us wonder if Archer was getting back.

See, the problem with T'Pol having been an emotional flake for most of the season is that now, when she needs to display her emotions to make a point, she just comes across as being typically-for-T'Pol whiny and hysterical. There's no oomph to it. Could she be in love with Archer? Sure, why not, I'll buy that. Actually I don't care. Which is sad, because we should care. But she's worn out her welcome, and I only like about a third of Archer's multiple personalities (like whichever one was in control this week), so watching her dissolve into a pointy-eared puddle does nothing for me. (Memo to Makeup: the ear appliances looked very bad in the Ready Room scene.)

T'Pol is officially never allowed to take command of Enterprise again. She's a worse driver than Troi. Okay, seriously, she folds in crisis. Repeatedly. She gets the ship and the starboard nacelle FOOMs in fear. (It's the warp engine equivalent of soiling one's pants.) The Bridge explodes and she just sits there, frozen with indecision. And because she just had several weepy-woman scenes, it adds another layer to her tharn incompetency: is she locked up because she's on emotional overload, or because she's just a lousy leader in the crunch? Not like either way it's a good reflection on her. Captain Tucker knew what to do. Harrumph.

Holy catfish I can't believe the ship got beaten to bits! I'm going to assume that something stops the attack at the beginning of the next episode, because the XindiSnakes would not allow them to limp off.

Food Chain just barely intact. No new Recycled Trek Actors. Some damage. More comments later.

March 5, 2004: Sorry if there's a lot of Archer commentary this week on a Trip-centric site, but as has happened almost all season, our boy is not the focus of the episode.

WTF is her problem?

Trip: Uh, T'Pol? You're supposed to be in charge now. Where are you going?
T'Pol: I am storming off in what I believe is called an "adolescent hissy fit."
Trip: Oh. Jus' like the cap'n, then. Never mind.

It was rough on everyone having to destroy the lunar listening post, but really, they had no choice. If it had been possible to disable the thing without killing the three Xindi, I hope they would have, but this is a mission to save their species -- much like Degra's -- and they can't take the chance.

"Patience is for the dead." Another Resounding Trek Villain Motto™, up there with "Resistance is futile" (the Borg), "Victory is life" (the Jem'Hadar), "Today is a good day to die" (the Klingons, who are intermittent villains), and "The weak will perish" (Species 8472). Short, snappy, scares small children. Slap it on a bumper sticker and sell it at conventions. (Or let Weird Al do a version.)

I've said this before, but I like Degra as a villain, because he isn't. He's complicated. He has children, and thinks even of the children of his enemies. (I wonder how that affected Archer's thinking when he was caring for the XindiBug eggs?) He is working to defend his race, but he'd rather not indulge in violence. It's self-defense. In a word, he's an honorable man. And honorable people can be reasoned with. So there's hope.

I thought it was amusing that Trip was biting his nails during the first tactical report. Jeez, have they gotten that nervous and deranged? I guess so.

ooooh sexy nasty Xindi shuttle. With a big stinger. Which is fine for space travel, where friction doesn't apply, but for underwater navigation is not quite as efficient. And speaking of shuttles, I thought at first they meant the Suliban cell-ship, which should still be kicking around and which has a cloak they now know how to operate. Why didn't they use that? (Archer is getting as bad as Janeway about collecting and hoarding alien shuttles. But the pods come back pretty often, and Voyager's shuttles frequently didn't. Even the Delta Flyer bought it once.)

Trip laugh of the week: "Unless we plan to fly in ass-first, we'd better figure how to make it go forward."

I was a bit surprised to see that Archer was willing to send Trip, the man he ordered a murder to preserve, on such a dangerous mission. I suppose they needed his expertise to keep the shuttle flying.

T'Pol notes, "Their flight path is...somewhat erratic." Look, you backseat driver, when you're in the Big Chair, you consistently shred the starboard nacelle, so let's not hear about Silent Trav's piloting skills, 'kay? At least he doesn't crash the ship every time he sits down at the joystick.

Trip tells the XindiStormTrooper Patrol (a third of this ep was a direct lift from Star Wars, right down to shooting a missile down the throat of the Death Star) that they "corrected" the "slight navigational error which threw us off-course." Okay, but then they continue down to the planet and go into the ocean. The patrol didn't notice this? The Xindi in the little ships around the Death Star didn't notice them?

We assumed that the Death Star was being built at a XindiAquatic facility, although we didn't see any of them. (Either them or Gungans.)

Trinneer did a good job showing bits of suppressed fury as Trip goes after the Death Star. The gritted-teeth snarl when the patrol hails them, the cold calculation in his voice as they hunt the ocean, the shock on his face when they first see the weapon -- whatever denial he was able to manage isn't helping him now. This is the big brother of the thing that killed his baby sister, and it's their job to make sure it doesn't kill anyone else.

Notice Malcolm squirming as Trav and Trip vie for the suicide mission. It's his idea, so he can't exactly protest it, but he does not want Trip to head into the belly of the beast with a bomb. (I assume he's worried about Trip, since he had Trav have had what, four conversations in three years?) Then Archer claims it, and Malcolm stares in shock as his hand comes down from his face. Of course! Why didn't I think of that? With the captain gone, T'Pol will fall apart in minutes, and the Commander and I will have Enterprise free and clear!

If that was a display of the Enterprise-J in the background on the consoles, it's an awful design. Looks like the Big D was cast in ice and left in the sun to melt.

Daniels: "It's getting harder and harder to surprise you, Captain."
Archer: "That's because I read the whole script, not just my lines."

So, if things turn out "as they should," the Expanse is...stopped from expanding in the 22nd century? Continues to expand for four hundred years but is ignored? Is one of those back burner problems that don't require the flagship of the fleet to waltz in and kick butt, so Picard wouldn't have had to deal with it?

I still don't get Daniels. Why is Archer the only one who can convince the Xindi to stand down? And why didn't Daniels bring the Xindi Council to the Big J? Seems that would be a much more efficient way to convince them, don't you think? Especially if future-era, Federation/Starfleet Xindi are involved? And you can't invoke the Temporal Prime Directive in this instance, because if the Tesseracts have influenced the Xindi, the timeline has already been violated, and bringing the Council to the future to stop the war would only be restoring it. This is why I never liked the time-travel aspect of ENT to begin with. Too messy, too easy to hit the Magic Reset Button™, too hard to keep continuity straight.

I was very pleased to hear T'Pol not going all Scully about time travel after having been to Detroit. I can't imagine why Degra bought it, but at least T'Pol the scientist is willing to believe the evidence of her own eyes.

Ve haf vays of making you tock

Reptilian: Tell me what I want to know.
Archer: You put the Bug in Bugly, you miserable cockroach.
Reptilian: We have ways of making you talk. And I'm not an Insectoid.
Archer: Talk? Sure, I can talk. You know, when I was in my early twenties on a trip to East Africa I saw a gazelle giving birth. It was truly amazing...
Reptilian: NOOOOO! Not the gazelle speech!
Degra: You people are ruthless! Savages!
Archer: Ask me about my airlock.

I'm okay with Archer's strange suicidal cheeriness, but he should have been more choked up about leaving Porthos. We can even assume he said goodbye to Trip offscreen (or figure that Archer is so disaffected in his near-psychotic state that the meaningful glance on the Bridge was sufficient for him), but this is his buddy, his pal, his nonverbal quadruped. The odd little head squeeze is something we do to the cat when we're playing, not a Goodbye, Farewell, Amen. Although now that I think about it, Archer used up the last of his vacation time from reality in "Hatchery." Once Phlox got wind of the captain declaring that he was going on a suicide mission, he and Trip should have made good on their threat to drag his butt into Sickbay for a full workup, and then declared him unfit for duty.

Archer gets in on the push for a fourth season by asking his crew to go back to their ideals of exploration after he FOOMs the Death Star. Um, okay, but if you don't convince the Xindi that we're not the enemy, you've only put off the destruction, not prevented it. They'll build another weapon, as is pointed out later on. And after this, is Starfleet ever going to be content with mere "exploration"?

I realize I've been listening to the LOTR soundtracks a lot lately, but there was a definite Howard Shore influence on the score this week. Since we are dealing with what are supposed to be sweeping, momentous events, it's not inappropriate, but we know he's not going to die, so it's a little too much hype.

wombat61 wondered why Archer didn't discuss any kind of Plan B with his crew. If he told T'Pol about Daniels and the Xindi Trust Token, why didn't she tell Trip and Malcolm? Having worked for the diplomatic corps, it's not unthinkable that "a Vulcan, bred to peace" would want to negotiate before fighting, but she essentially frames it as her own suicide mission. Why didn't Archer have a meeting to brainstorm alternatives?

When Archer told SnakeEyes to get Degra on the strength of his third child's name, we were wondering if it was a "sleeper" code phrase, meant to unlock repressed memories. But I guess that would have been one layer too many in what's already a pretty dense script.

"We can't trust her; she's been dealing with the Reptilians secretly." "SHE may have taken them [to the past]."Who is "She"? Suspiria? Eris Discordia? Majel Barrett? (My newest bet is that Future Guy is actually Future Woman, played by Majel. *evil cackle*)

There was a lot of urgent yelling going on during the final battle, but only T'Pol seemed freaked out and unable to make a decision. Trip stayed in command, putting out fires (heh -- poor stunt guy) and moving on quickly. He's grace under fire. Malcolm kept a cool head. Hoshi didn't scream. Travis, poor sod, the ceiling nearly fell on him and he didn't utter a sound! (And bodies flying right out of the ship, like when the Borg took a core sample of the Big D in "Q Who?" Brrr.) I really hope that at the beginning of "Damage" she pulls herself together.

Next week will be a fresh Get Me Rewrite! with new stuff continuing throughout Repeats.

March 10, 2004: To open Repeats, we have an all-new Get Me Rewrite! with a photo from the Star Trek daily desk calendar, scanned by Archer4Trip. Standard note: This is a PG-13 site, and as such, overly lewd, crude, or otherwise obscene material will not be posted. Check the Rewrite Doctors to see what's been added.

March 17, 2004: And now for something completely different.

We assume that ENT will eventually be available on DVD, and that there will be bonus materials -- interviews, behind-the-scenes pieces, director's cuts, et cetera. One popular DVD bonus is an audio commentary track, wherein the people involved in filming a movie or TV show watch their work and discuss it for the benefit of the audience.

Herewith is a transcript of what one such audio commentary might be like, for the second-season episode "The Catwalk." Let me know what you think.

Opus is god!March 18, 2004: While technically this has little to nothing to do with Star Trek, I did find that Berke Breathed (of Bloom County, Outland, and now Opus fame) has his own website, on which some of his favorite strips are posted. Bloom County had a number of Trek parodies over the years and is still my favorite comic of all time. Starting yesterday, MyComics.com (you have to buy a subscription) is re-running all of Bloom County online, alternating posting six daily strips with a Sunday strip. There's a direct link on Berke's site.

March 19, 2004: Buona Festa di San Giuseppe, for my paisane who celebrate it. Have some sfingi for me and Papá. And Happy Birthday to Connor Trinneer, who packs Trip with such a pulchritudinous punch.

March 22, 2004: Double-headers! UPN has (to the complaints of very few) tweaked the schedule again, and is running ENT at 8pm AND 9pm for at least two weeks (March 24 and March 31). If they continue that for the rest of repeats, that would air "Azati Prime" the week before "Damage," which would make sense.

March 24, 2004: Even Zeke at Five-Minute Voyager liked the commentary! Funny, talented, a Trekkie, and with good taste -- hey Zeke, my sister is single.... :) Thanks to everyone who gave me such kind compliments. I'm really glad you enjoyed it. The next one is due up in a few weeks, and then I'm planning on more over the summer.

Back to Get Me Rewrite! I know this is just a plain ol' screencap from "Chosen Realm," but the moment I saw it I knew it was way too wide open not to use. Note: please keep chat acronyms and abbreviations to a minimum, no matter how funny they are. I will not post anything I can't read and understand immediately. Emoticons are welcome.

March 27, 2004: Okay, lesson learned: caves, goats, and Boomsticks are inherently more funny than computers. Next GMR will have a crew member in it, I promise.

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